By Eric Walberg
About 10% of Canadians live in poverty. That figure is even higher in major cities, such as Toronto where the number of children living below the line is nearly 25%. In India, 22% of the people live in poverty. A "guaranteed annual income" (GAI) could wipe out this poverty at a stroke.
GAI (also BIG -- basic income guarantee) has been quietly mooted by both left and right since the 1960s. Economist Milton Friedman called it (approvingly) "helicopter money". What could be easier to administer, to end the most obvious source of social injustice, and which is welcomed even by most Canadians?
Leading politicians around the world have endorsed the idea. In India, several projects and modest universal Cash Transfers (CTs) have been implemented. All Green Parties from Europe to North America, the Scottish National Party, the French Socialists, all endorse it. Switzerland will hold a referendum in June. Finland will launch a trial in 2017, and is committed to implementation, as are several Dutch cities. Brazil implemented a Citizens Basic Income for all of its citizens in 2004, with positive results in terms of health and economic stimulation (and ensuring the reelection of President Lula da Silva).
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